The oil and gas industry in Louisiana accounted for nearly 310,000 jobs and $16 billion in household earnings in 2009, Chris John writes in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. But that economic development is being threatened by lawyer-driven litigation that seeks to blame the industry for wetland erosion:
Louisiana has always been a litigious state with a reputation for being the place of big verdicts and huge plaintiff payouts. In fact, a recent study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform revealed Louisiana as the second worst legal environment in the country and found that by improving the state’s legal environment, Louisiana may be able to save $1.1 billion in tort costs annually and increase employment rates by approximately 3 percent. So, while the oil and gas industry is generating growth and jobs in Louisiana, the plaintiff attorney “industry” is doing the opposite.
Preserving the wetlands is good for the industry, given that so much oil and gas moves along the region’s infrastructure, John continues. “We will continue to be a part of the solution, a solution that puts Louisiana first, working together with state leaders and the industry as a whole for a better, sustainable Louisiana coast, not sitting in a courtroom for the next several decades.”